This is a summary of a paper presented at the 28th Annual Conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action in November 1999. This paper was submitted to the peer-reviewed academic journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly for consideration.
Nonprofits’ Use of the Media in the Influence of Public Policy:
Is there a correlation between exposure in the media and positive results?
DAVID A. RICE
STRATEGIC POLICY CONCEPTS
Abstract: The extent to which interest groups and the media influence policymakers has been a
popular topic of research. However, there has been little research on ...view middle of the document...
Nonprofit advocates typically represent the interests of those who would otherwise not have a voice in government or in the shaping of public policy. And as nonprofits have become an integral part of the delivery of government services and programs, their stake in the policymaking process has increased significantly. However, evidence shows that the nonprofit sector’s effectiveness at advocating on behalf of its interests is limited when compared to the effectiveness of the for-profit sector.
This study identifies how the nonprofit and for-profit sectors’ effectiveness as policy advocates compare to each other and what factors contribute to the for-profit sector’s success in policymaking, including their use of the media. This study also identified which factors influence policymakers’ decisions and, to a lesser degree, the media’s reluctance to adequately cover the nonprofit sector’s role in the public policymaking process.
Literature Review. A literature review included five major areas: 1) the nonprofit sector’s changing relationship with government; 2) nonprofit advocacy practices; 3) interest groups’ impact on policymaking; 4) the media’s influence on policymakers and public opinion; and 5) the media’s coverage of the nonprofit sector. The reference material used for the paper includes 42 articles from 18 various journals, 12 books, 3 unpublished doctoral theses, organization documents, interviews, web sites, and newspaper articles.
Written Survey. A total of 500 confidential surveys, based on a format put forth by Martin Linsky in Impact: How the Press Effects Federal Policymaking (1986), were mailed to the following cohorts involved in Massachusetts’ policymaking process: 1) policymakers: members of the House and Senate, gubernatorial staff, agency secretaries, commissioners, and department leaders; 2) media: members of the State House Press Association; and 3) interest groups: registered lobbyists for for-profit and nonprofit interests. The response rate was 32% for policymakers, 24% for the media, and 29% for interest groups.
Analysis of the data collected through the returned surveys provided the following primary findings: 1) policymakers regard nonprofit advocates’ issues as having...